Yesterday, I watched a movie called Gimme Shelter on Netflix. I didn’t realize that Vanessa Hudgens was actually in the movie until I started it, and even then, I questioned whether or not it was her. Now, my only references to her work other than the High School Musical franchise, was Sucker Punch. That being said, I didn’t really have any high expectations. I’d heard of the movie briefly before, but didn’t get a chance to catch it when it was in theaters. That being said, Netflix is a wonderful invention. Based on a true story, Hudgens plays Agnes “Apple” Bailey, a pregnant runaway teen. The film co-stars Rosario Dawson as her drug-addled mother, Brendan Fraser as her well-to-do biological father, James Earl Jones as a compassionate priest, and character-actress, Ann Dowd as Kathy, the woman who runs a shelter for homeless, young mothers.
The role of Apple is a far cry from Hudgens’ current project as the title character in Gigi on Broadway. Her portrayal is riveting, raw and honest. She gave the role everything her talents could provide, had the dialect down, and was vanity-free. She really shines and seems to leave the Disney star behind with this role. In a key scene in the hospital, Hudgens spars with James Earl Jones and holds her own against the industry veteran. That scene itself pretty much sealed the deal for me, giving me a new found respect for an actress who has often been simply labeled a teen star. Although the film could sometimes have the feeling of a Lifetime movie or even reminiscent of Precious, it is well executed and performances elevate it to a level that makes it worth a watch. It’s currently on Netflix and I am glad I stumbled upon a gripping tale with amazing performances.
The amount of puns and wordplay in the Netflix original series Ever After High, produced by the toy company Mattel, is a work of pure genius. Mattel also produces the sister series Monster High (which was produced first), making these merchandising campaigns to the tween market swift, easy, and profitable. The concept is easy: take an existing group of fairy tale characters and cleverly expand on plot points from the original stories. This isn’t exactly a new concept, but it is a fun one. We’ve seen it with movies like the Shrek series, Hoodwinked, Young Frankenstein, and countless others. The series Once Upon a Time wouldn’t be around without such a re-imagining. That being said, it’s quite witty and smart to have a series such as these geared towards a younger audience.
With characters like the daughter of Snow White: Apple White, the son of Robin Hood: Sparrow Hood, and Madeline Hatter, the quirky daughter of the Mad Hatter, it’s quite entertaining. Watching it as an adult, I was reminded of how much I have always enjoyed stories, fairy tales, and legends. Even though the show is categorized as a children’s show, I am also interested in the voice acting done within said series (which is great.) It’s entertaining, and if developed further, could be a breakout original children’s series for Netlfix. Coupled with merchandise of dolls and accessories, and books, the relatively new series has the potential to make a name for itself as the future in children’s programming. Plus, the school is run by none other than the Brother’s Grimm. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fairy tale fan, or just want a different type of series to watch with your kids.
If you’re like me, you woke up this morning (let’s be honest, this afternoon) and immediately realized two things: Friends is now available on Netflix, and hoverboards (from Back to the Future) should exist for real. There was only one problem: No one could actually find Friends on Netflix. It took me a while to actually find it. Searching by the name of the actor, i.e., Jennifer Aniston, the series came up right away. I have seen others who searched by typing the title “F.r.i.e.n.d.s.” as well. But no worries, 2015 got off to a great start now that everyone is watching a series that premiered twenty years ago and had its series finale in 2004. Nonetheless, it illustrates just how much of an impact our entertainment industry has on popular culture and well as longevity. I mean, look at the Back to the Future franchise: it remains relevant. New generations will be introduced to Ross and Rachel, Chandler and Monica, and Pheobe and Joey. There’s the sense of nostalgia that audiences feel when watching something that they grew up on. It seems like yesterday, and it’s still funny, even twenty years later. So start off the New Year with a little help from Friends. Now, if I could only find a hoverboard…